Cambodia holds a special place in my heart. Ten years ago, I fell in love with the people of Poipet and the beautiful children at Imparting smiles. When we first started going, Cambodia was only about 1% Christian. Over the years, I have watched Steve and Noit’s ministry grow and have seen Jesus bring light to darkness. When I am in Cambodia I feel super close to God. I can set aside the business of my life in Katy, and truly focus on Jesus.
These memories popped up today on my Facebook timeline. Last year’s mission trip to Cambodia was very special. Steve and Noit were in the process of building the Antioch school in Cooper Pott’s honor, and our team was able to see this elementary school for the first time. Steve and Noit had a special painting of Cooper hugging Jesus hanging in the entry way. I will never forget walking into the school that day, and that painting was the first thing I saw.. At first I could barely bring myself to look at it. It brought an overwhelming wave of sadness which made me want to run right out of the building.
However, after a few moments, God gave me a sense of overwhelming peace that I had never really felt before. In the months following Cooper’s death, I had watched that peace completely cover Kara and her family, but I had struggled to feel it myself. In that moment, I was finally able to let all of my doubt go, and I decided to truly trust in Jesus and the hope of Heaven. I then started thinking about the hundreds and thousands of the kids that will walk through those doors in the future and learn about Jesus’s love for them. Surely many of them would ask about the boy in the picture. I can only imagine how the story of Cooper’s life and his amazing love for Jesus will instill hope and peace in generations of Cambodian children.
Fast forward one year…….This year’s trip was very special! Our team was able to witness the vision I had come true. The Antioch school was open and full of energetic kids and teachers. We sat in several classes and watched the teachers pour into the students. We could all see God’s hand at work in these classrooms. The sadness I felt the previous year was gone and transformed into pure joy. I looked at Cooper’s picture this year and felt true hope. I can really see Cooper’s legacy raise the next generation of children in Poipet to follow Jesus and love others like Cooper did (#livelikecooper). I now truly understand how God turns ashes into beauty. I read somewhere recently that hope is like a star. Stars are amazing but you can only really see their full splendor in the dark. I now really understand what this means.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15-13